“I’ve got a great idea for a website!”
“I’m going to be a blogger!”
“I’m going to sell my crafts and make money from my hobby!”
The exuberance of that initial idea that moves you to start a website is intoxicating. It makes you search for that perfect domain name, and curse the universe when you find out that some faceless jerk had the gall to buy it before you did.
There’s nothing quite like that first burst of energy from your idea.
“I’m going to blog about the impact of GMO plants on our bodies and the environment.”
“I’m going to let the world know the finest details of porcelain dolls.”
“I want to finally start selling my organic, gluten-free bagels.”
However, most of the people I ask about their website suddenly have a disconnect between this great idea and how their website can accomplish this.
I’ve been guilty of this myself.
A website can be boiled down to one of three basic functions (or some combination thereof):
- Get people to see what you’re writing/making.
- Get people to join and participate in your community.
- Get people to buy what you’re selling.
Do you want to inform, persuade, warn, or entertain people with your writing?
You need to get people to see what you’re writing. Otherwise you’re talking to a blank wall and being happy that the mice might be hearing you.
Do you want to have people share, grow together, create content, organize, band together, or be a part of something more?
You need to get people to join and then get them to participate. Otherwise you are a party of one, sitting in front of a giant cake all alone.
Do you want to produce your ideas, be paid to create content, or have people’s lives be changed by the work of your hands?
You need to convince people to buy what you’re selling. Otherwise you will go broke or have to get a job to pay the bills.
It’s important to identify and understand what you do to fuel your passion. There’s an old story of Ray Croc, the owner of McDonald’s, being at a party and the topic of business came up in discussion. Ray asked the crowd “What business am I in?”
One person near him responded “Why, you’re in the hamburger business Mr. Croc.”
“No my dear boy,” Ray responded, “I’m in the real estate business.”
Ray understood that to get people to buy as many burgers as he could, his stores needed to be at intersections of roads with the greatest amount of traffic and easy access. He knew what his stores had to do, just like you need to know what your website has to do.
Your website needs to do something. Even more, it needs to get your visitors to do something. Whether it entertains, informs, sells, or is just a place for you to rant about the world, your website needs to serve a purpose. Choose what purpose it is going to have, or someone else will.